Last week, Jorge Giordani – the (now ex)Minister of Planning – released a letter clarifying his role in the construction of Bolivarianism in Venezuela over the last 16 years. Giordani was a close friend of Chavez, and worked in conjunction with him to redesign Venezuelan society and its economy to reflect the values the two men shared.
The letter begins with Giordani’s account of the work he has done for the Venezuelan economy and the Bolivarian movement since he met Chavez in the 1990s, and ends with criticisms levelled directly at Maduro’s tenure in office.
In the letter, which Giordani released the day after he was dismissed from his post, was highly critical of Maduro. According to Giordani:
It is painful and alarming to see a presidency that is not transmitting leadership.
[Maduro] is giving a massive amount of resources to whoever asks for them without a fiscal program framed by socialist planning…
While Chavez was in jail in the early part of the 1990s for his involvement in the 1992 coup d’eat, Giordani taught him economics. In the same letter in which he criticizes Maduro, Giordani called Chavez “a true companion”.
On June 20, Maduro gave a speech in which he addressed the controversy. Without mentioning Giordani, Maduro said:
There are some colleagues who prefer to stand far back and take refuge there and be chroniclers of failure. There’s no excuse for anyone’s betrayal of the revolutionary project.
Three Dead at Uribana
The firefight inside the Uribana prison last night ended with three dead and seven injured. The dead were one visitor to the prison – 51 year old Vicente Mendoza – and two unidentified prisoners.
According to government sources, a visitor smuggled a grenade into the prison during the day, which some inmates then detonated, setting off a series of confrontations which resulted in the deaths and injuries. A communique from the Ministry of Penal Services reads:
Three Ministry guards were subdued, taken hostage and relieved of their weapons by a group of (…) 20 inmates who had in their possession a grenade-type explosive, which they used.
The seven injured individuals were all prison guards. The same communique mentions that 29 individuals, including 26 inmates, are currently being investigated for any role they might have played in the violence.
The Uribana prison was the site of a riot in late-January of 2013. The riot left 61 inmates dead and 120 injured.
Giordani’s criticism of Maduro is important because it signals the clearest, loudest break of the Old Guard from the policies and direction of the Maduro government.
Giordani fought alongside Chavez to make Venezuela the country that it is today. For 16 years, Giordani’s involvement in several different capacities with the Venezuelan government and economy shaped the country to fit the vision he and Chavez shared. For better or for worse, when you talk about the Bolivarian project and Venezuela, you’re talking mostly about two men: Hugo Chavez and Jorge Giordani.
The letter, in essence, means that wherever Maduro is taking Venezuela now, he does so without the consent of one of Chavez’s closest friends. Chavez, being dead, cannot speak his mind on how he thinks the country is faring, and how good – or bad – a job he thinks Maduro is doing. But in Giordani’s letter we get the next best thing to Chavez’s own opinion on these issues.
If there was any doubt left that Maduro is not the replacement Chavez was hoping for, Giordani’s letter removed it once and for all.